Vineyard Wind I Will Start Delivering Power to Massachusetts Before Year's End

The offshore wind developer behind Vineyard Wind 1, a joint venture of Avangrid and Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners, is planning to flip the switch in coming days as its 806-megawatt project starts initial operations. That will happen "before the end of 2023," said Avangrid Director of External Communications Craig Gilvarg.

The start of operations is pending the completion of several critical tests and technical milestones, including final testing of the array and export cables, and energization of the offshore substation. Finished in July, that facility "is one of the largest built in the global offshore industry," according to the company,

The impending release of the first power comes as the company finished installing the first of five GE Haliade-X turbines, considered to be the most advanced in the industry. Installations began in mid-June.

“Our team has worked tremendously hard, through nights, weekends, and holidays to put us in the position to deliver the first power from Avangrid’s nation-leading Vineyard Wind 1 project before the end of the year,” Avangrid CEO Pedro Azagra said in a statement about the plans.

He indicated the company is working through the final technical requirements to begin delivering "these first green electrons to 30,000 homes and businesses in Massachusetts."

The power will make landfall at Barnstable's Covell Beach and proceed through its concrete encasement under town roads to a new substation that awaits in Independence Park in Hyannis, where it will connect to the ISO-New England Grid. From there, it will be distributed to Massachusetts users.

To begin, Vineyard Wind — touted as the nation's first commercial-scale offshore wind project — will contribute about 65 megawatts to the power grid, which will gradually increase in bundles as more turbines are completed and put into operation until the full 806-megawatt capacity is reached.

"Turbine installation will continue through the winter," Gilvarg said, noting the project is expected to become fully operational in 2024.

There are another 57 turbines to construct in the shallow waters of the Outer Continental Shelf about 15 miles south of Martha's Vineyard.

Vineyard Wind's General Electric Haliade-X turbines each include a monopile anchoring it to the seafloor, topped by a transitional piece at the surface, then a tower topped by a nacelle and three blades. Each blade is 107 meters or almost the length of a football field including the end zones (109.7 meters). The height of each turbine is about the same as three Statues of Liberty stacked up, (about 850 feet) from blade tip to the water's surface.

According to the U.S. Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, this scale is typical for offshore wind turbines. The greater heights and longer blades allow each turbine to create more energy more efficiently, therefore fewer turbines are needed to produce the same power that shorter turbines with shorter blades would generate.

News of the upcoming first wind-generated power release is greeted by the Environmental League of Massachusetts as something of a gift, just in time for the holiday season. League President Elizabeth Turnbull Henry said in a statement that the organization "is thrilled to see this tremendous milestone and strong momentum toward delivering the first large-scale offshore wind power to the New England grid."

"Offshore wind is the single biggest lever we can pull to address the climate crisis while strengthening our regional economy, protecting ratepayers, improving public health, and creating high-quality jobs and equitable access to economic opportunity," she said, adding that the organization "commends Avangrid and CIP for their determination in bringing Vineyard Wind 1 online and demonstrating a path forward for New England to equitably and responsibly achieve carbon neutrality."

Joe Curtatone, president of the Northeast Clean Energy Council, is also excited, saying "This will forever change how we think about power production in the U.S., unlocking a major source of electricity in the Northeast that can be copied by other coastal regions."

Vineyard Wind began offshore construction in late 2022. Once it's complete, the project will produce enough power to energize 400,000 homes and businesses in Massachusetts and is expected to reduce carbon emissions by more than 1.6 million metric tons per year — equivalent to taking 325,000 cars off the road annually.

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